A Birthday

by Kelsi in , , , ,


 

My sweet boy turned 6 earlier this month. I can hardly believe he has less than a month left of Kindergarten. It has been such a wonderful year of growth not just for him but for us as parents too.

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We always host a birthday party for him at home, which is certainly a celebration of him but also a chance to get together with our extended family and a few close friends. It is always a full house and there is always lots of good food.

This year, I wanted to make The Birthday Cake from Christina Tosi at Momofuku Milk Bar. It looks like a process, and it is, but an incredibly fun one. I so enjoyed putting it together. And the technique of using a cake ring to cut the layers, acetate to build up the side frame and the freezer to set it is genius. I want to make all my layer cakes this way. It's fun and they look incredible. 

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 If your'e not familiar with the Momofuku birthday cake you should watch this video clip of Christina Tosi on Chef's Table and you can find the actual recipe on Bon Appetit...

Also inspired by Christina Tosi, I made a version of her Haute Dogs. However, I used Julia Turshen's foolproof and truly all-purpose yeasted dough recipe from her cookbook Small Victories. I've mentioned her cookbook here at least a few times as it is such a great one. In the cookbook she uses the dough recipe to make 12 raspberry jam buns. I used it to make 12 hot dog rolls (in fact I tripled the recipe to make 36) instead. I also used my stand mixer to initially mix the dough, then kneaded it for a few minutes as instructed. Then I put all three batches into a cambro, covered it with a towel and let it rise for about an hour until doubled in size. I punched it down, covered the bowl with the lid and stuck it in the fridge overnight until I was ready to make them the following morning.

I slathered a mustard butter on each roll and added this red onion jam before rolling them up and baking them. I piled them high on a sheetpan to serve and they were devoured by kids and adults alike.

I also made this great onion dip from Alison Roman served with classic ridged potato chips, a simple and bright cabbage slaw and a quadruple batch of these long time favorite salted brown butter crispy treats from Smitten Kitchen (though I more than double the Maldon sea salt it calls for).

For the adults I found these perfect mini cans of sparking Italian white and rosé at Trader Joe's. They are fantastic for a party, not too sweet and only $4 for a 4/pack...

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I also love hanging lots of paper streamers all over the house. It instantly makes the room feel happy and celebratory. I love the ones from the Oh Happy Day shop...

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In fact I love them so much that the ones in the dining room are still up...

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Lastly (and again related to Christina Tosi) I can't forget to mention these Confetti Cookies...

  Photograph: Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold

Photograph: Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold

I made them to bring to my son's school on his actual birthday to share with his class. Three things in particular make these incredible. They are inspired by the technique of the snickerdoodle with the addition of cream of tartar. They have an incredibly long creaming process (a Milk Bar signature) about 10 minutes total. And the addition of milk powder which Tosi says adds chewiness as well as a depth of flavor. Full of sugar, dairy, gluten and artificially colored sprinkles! But for a special treat, I'd have a hard time passing up one of these. 

 

From My Wishlist...

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

I am on a bit of a spending hiatus. Overall I am quite conscious about what I buy, but it feels like I've added quite a bit to my closet and the skincare arsenal lately. So I'm taking a break to enjoy and use what I already have. I feel overwhelmed when I have a bit too much stuff and besides, my savings would greatly appreciate the break. (This is also a good time to re-mention YNAB - go check it out.)

Even though I'm not currently buying, it doesn't stop me from looking and adding beautiful things to my wishlist.

I have long wanted a pair of these Hoffman armchairs at the dining room table...

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This perfect Clare V clutch in cuoio vachetta leather that I bet ages beautifully...

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Also from Clare V this green bandana...

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These sweet little stud earrings...

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These rose gold black diamond huggies...

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And THESE, holy cow. They are out of my price range but I love these something terrible...

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I'd buy this dress if I were traveling to Italy this summer...

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And once I get through all of my current favorite facial masks, this one from REN is the next one I'd love to try...

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Also from REN, this body serum...

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And my robe could use an upgrade. This waffle one from Coyuchi is the one I have my eye on...

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Sick Day

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

My son is sick today so I have an unexpected day off. I am grateful for the day at home and a few extra hours to do laundry, tidy-up and pay the bills. Luckily I also happened to have all the ingredients to make this way delicious savory oatmeal from David Tanis for lunch. I know what I'm making for breakfast tomorrow...

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The new Cuyana catalog arrived today and now I want (ahem) these three things, starting with this seersucker flounce top...

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This beautiful travel bag...

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And this seersucker dress with pockets(!)...

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Also going on the wishlist is another pair of Annie Costello Brown earrings. Maybe this pair? Or these?! Too hard to decide.

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I recently bought the pair I've been wanting for the last few years and can't stop wearing them. They elevate any outfit. By the way the pants that I am wearing below are these fantastic wide leg ones from Everlane. I just ordered them in white too...

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Something else that looks gorgeous with these earrings is my new dress from Doen. I bought it to wear to a California wedding this fall but plan to wear it every chance I get before then...

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I also took some time today to sit in the sunshine and read a bit of the third Maisie Dobbs book. One of my clients turned me onto the series and now I am addicted. I love historical fiction and these are great fun to read.

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It's the weekend...

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

Finally, some sunshine is arriving in Seattle which is welcome news for us sun-starved Seattleites. It has been a bit bleak the last few weeks...

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I'm going to celebrate by wearing my new Clare V x TOMS leopard espadrilles (seen below). See the whole collection here...

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I likely won't wear them this week but I took advantage of Loeffler Randall's Friends + Family sale last week and finally pulled the trigger on these silver beauties that I have been eyeing the last six months. They are so soft and even more gorgeous in person...

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I've really been enjoying this adaptogenic take on a thai iced tea. Thrive Market has the best price on Sun Potion products by the way. And if you're not making your own, this Aroy-D coconut milk is my favorite one...

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Every time a DWR catalog arrives I linger on the LOLL lounge chairs. Some day I'd love to have a pair of these on the patio...

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I've been wanting to make these beautiful pancakes from Heidi Swanson and I think tomorrow is the day...

  Image from 101 Cookbooks

Image from 101 Cookbooks

Last week I finally watched Franca: Chaos and Creation and loved every minute of it. I might queue it up again this weekend...

  Photograph by Francesco Carrozzini via  Departures

Photograph by Francesco Carrozzini via Departures

I also am watching this tonight once the kiddo is in bed...

It is likely that I will be mixing up a margarita to enjoy in the sunshine at some point this weekend, but tonight I am drinking a glass of my favorite "house wine" that I've been buying locally at PCC (I have Olaiya to thank for the recommendation). And since I'm solo for dinner tonight (and my husband hates mushrooms) I'm looking forward to making this pea and mushroom sauté from Pamela Salzman that I will devour in peace.

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House Margarita

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

It is spring break this week and while most people we know made a mass exodus out of Seattle in search of sunshine (who can blame them) we are having a rather stellar staycation at home. Both my husband and I took the week off. I've been catching up on reading and when I haven't been reading I've been cooking and baking.

Another bright spot has been a visit from dear friends who live in Lake Tahoe that we haven't seen in a few years. When we get together it's like no time has passed. The company and conversation is always easy and there is always laughter. We also drank a few rounds of my "house margarita" which includes my most favorite spirit, mezcal. Yes, yes, and yes.

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A PERFECT MARGARITA

1 oz tequila

1 oz mezcal (I like Vida)

1 tablespoon agave syrup

Juice of 1 lime

Shake and pour over ice (I like these big cube molds for this)

*A note if making these for a crowd - I learned this tip from Julia Turshen. Simply quadruple this recipe (or more if you have a big crowd) and just whisk it all together in a big pitcher. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve and then pour over ice.

 

 

Living with Spaciousness

by Kelsi in , ,


Krista Tippett's conversation with Naomi Shihab Nye is one of the On Being conversations that I have listened to multiple times. Listening this time around it was this part about "living with spaciousness" that stuck with me the most...

MS. TIPPETT: Well, so — I’m very interested in general in this question of what poetry works in us. But I think even that question itself holds the implication that poetry is something separate, something distinct. But it seems that, in your sensibility, you see it as very organic. I mean, there’s — I think it was in some of your writing for poems by children, you said, “I do think that all of us think in poems.”

MS. SHIHAB NYE: I do. I do think that. And I think that is very important, not feeling separate from text, feeling sort of your thoughts as text or the world as it passes through you as a kind of text. The story that you would be telling to yourself about the street, even as you walk down it, or as you drive down it, as you look out the window, the story you would be telling — it always seemed very much to me, as a child, that I was living in a poem, that my life was the poem. And in fact, at this late date, I have started putting that on the board of any room I walk into that has a board.

I just came back from Japan a month ago, and in every classroom, I would just write on the board, “You are living in a poem.” And then I would write other things just relating to whatever we were doing in that class. But I found the students very intrigued by discussing that. “What do you mean, we’re living in a poem?” Or, “When? All the time, or just when someone talks about poetry?” And I’d say, “No, when you think, when you’re in a very quiet place, when you’re remembering, when you’re savoring an image, when you’re allowing your mind calmly to leap from one thought to another, that’s a poem. That’s what a poem does.” And they liked that.

And a girl, in fact, wrote me a note in Yokohama on the day that I was leaving her school that has come to be the most significant note any student has written me in years. She said, “Well, here in Japan, we have a concept called ‘yutori.’” And it is spaciousness. It’s a kind of living with spaciousness. For example, it’s leaving early enough to get somewhere so that you know you’re going to arrive early, so when you get there, you have time to look around. Or — and then she gave all these different definitions of what yutori was to her.

But one of them was — and after you read a poem just knowing you can hold it, you can be in that space of the poem. And it can hold you in its space. And you don’t have to explain it. You don’t have to paraphrase it. You just hold it, and it allows you to see differently. And I just love that. I mean, I think that’s what I’ve been trying to say all these years. I should have studied Japanese. [laughs] Maybe that’s where all our answers are. In Japanese.


The Kitchen

by Kelsi in ,


 

I can't believe a year and a half has passed since our kitchen remodel wrapped up. After living with the before kitchen for nearly eight years, with a barely working fridge, a finicky oven, dingy paint and mustard linoleum floors, cooking and just spending time in this still new-to-me space is a dream. If I have emails to write I stand at the counter. It is my "office" and my favorite place in the house.

Side note: it is also quite convenient to live with a talented interiors photographer that you can ask to take some after shots...

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A few basics - the walls and cabinetry are "Simply White" from Benjamin Moore. This is our favorite white. It is clean, not too blue or yellow and even on those dark and dreary winter days, it always feels warm and cozy. Nearly every wall of our house, both inside and out (see below), is painted Simply White. The moulding and doors throughout the house as well as the kitchen floor (which is just the fir sub-floor that was underneath the linoleum) are painted a brighter, cooler, "Decorator's White."

The counters and shelves are untreated walnut rubbed with this butcher block oil.

Drawer pulls: Schoolhouse Electric; Induction Cooktop + Dishwasher: Miele; Oven + Refrigerator: KitchenAid; Rug: Homestead Seattle; Magnetic Knife Strip (18" walnut)

  Our "Simply White" exterior

Our "Simply White" exterior

Necessities that are always on the counter (as seen in the photos above)...

Vitamix; Berkey Filter; Breville Oven; Sonos; Olive Oil bottle for my favorite finishing olive oil; Menu pepper grinder (I use one for pepper and the other as a spice mill); Hario kettle + teak trivet; spoon rest, Heath tray with French butter keeper and Maldon salt; Olive wood salt cellar (similar here) for kosher salt; coffee grinder; basket with towels

And on the shelves...

Heath Ceramics plates, bowls (mine are almost entirely vintage though all are still available in opaque white), pasta bowlslarge and small mugs; Hario glass carafe + Blue Bottle ceramic dripper; All Clad cookware; Staub 7qt oven; Lodge griddle; Le Creuset cast-iron skillet; stainless bowls; glass bowls; Instant Pot; Bodega glasses; Duralex Picardie 8 oz glasses

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Other favorite tools etc...

Stick blender; storage clips and also these; plastic mason jar lids; glass straws; scale; 6" ceramic ginger grater; cookie scoops in several sizes; Joyce Chen scissorsstainless scraper + plastic scraper; Blue Bottle coffee filters

GIR Spatulas - regular + mini; GIR ladle; Thermapen; Microplanes - this and this; stainless whisks large and smallcan opener; two sets of measuring cups; 4 cup and 2 cup liquid measuring cups; two mini liquid measuring cups; two sets of measuring spoons

Zyliss peelers (two); various sized Ateco spatulas; funnels similar to these; canning funnel (useful for WAY more than canning - use for pouring and storing stocks, soups, beans, fruit sauce); tongs; meat tenderizer; fine mesh strainers like this and this; stainless skewers; grater; salad spinner

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Due Buoi stainless spatulas - these may just be one of my very favorite tools in the kitchen. I bought a wide and a slim one from Williams Sonoma a few years ago but now I can only find them here and here. They are so thin and so versatile from cooking pancakes on the griddle, flipping fish, smashing burgers or lifting brownies out of the pan.

We have really basic flatware from Crate and Barrel. This stuff does the job, looks and feels great to hold and it is super affordable. Eventually I'd like to add my dream David Mellor flatware to the mix...

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The remaining things that are stashed below the cooktop...

Sheet pans both half and quarter sizes; cooling racks; 13" Staub enameled cast-iron pan; a gorgeous carbon steel pan made locally by Blu Skillet Ironware that our dear friends Omar and Lora gave us to celebrate the kitchen; small butter warmer; Staub ceramic baking dishes

Epicurean cutting boards - large, small, and a black one used specifically for meat. A note on these - I have two large "official" looking cutting boards, one maple and one walnut, that are beasts. They are beautiful, but oh-so-heavy and unwieldy and take much more effort to wash and care for. These slim ones can easily slip into the dishwasher and save me time which I really appreciate.

For spices I highly recommend frequenting your grocery store's bulk section. I prefer PCC locally. They are fresher and WAY cheaper. You can also buy the containers there. I keep blue painter's tape and a Sharpie in a kitchen drawer to label spices and anything and everything else. Chicken stocks, soups, sauces, a just opened jar of tomato paste...

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I do not have a pantry so I have to find room for everything in three drawers. I store a lot in jars like these from Bormioli Rocco which almost all of my local grocers carry. I keep my Blue Bottle coffee beans in this canister...

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Thankfully I also have this amazing corner storage from Hafale where most of my baking stuff and more goes...

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My good friend Rita introduced me to this magic piece of German engineering in her own kitchen, and it was a must have when we were planning out our remodel...

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I keep this small folding stool handy so I can easily access the cabinet above the fridge where I keep things I don't use as often. This ceramic waffle iron, cake pans, spiralizer and my giant 10qt stainless bowl...

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The only kitchen necessity that I can't store in the kitchen is my Breville food processor. It is indispensable but given my limited storage space it has to live down the hall in the closet. I just upgraded to this one (recommended by Pamela Salzman) when my old Cuisinart finally bit the dust over the holidays. Talk about an upgrade. This one is insane. It is almost worth it for the adjustable slicing blade alone.

Phew! That was a lot but long overdue. Home (and the kitchen) is where my heart is.

 

Easter Weekend

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

Along with chocolate bunny eating and hanging with family this weekend, I'm excited to spend some quality time with my new book, Rules of Civility...

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I'm also making this beautiful, herby potato salad from Nadine Redzepi's cookbook. I checked it out from the library a few months back and loved it so much I had to buy it. It's one of my new favorites...

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I really hope to spend some time in the garden while the sun makes an appearance. I have seeds to plant, mostly salad greens, and my new Row 7 beets!

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It is a little early to put them in the dirt, but my dahlia tubers from Floret arrived today!

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I'm also going to be wearing this sweet jacket I just got from (surprise) Everlane. Seeing as I already have two army green jackets that I love, I got the black one. But if you don't already have an army colored jacket in your closet, get the surplus one. It will be a staple that you will wear year round...

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Also on the fashion front, check out this recent shot of the editors at French Vogue. Perfection as always...

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Last thing for now, I LOVE this mascara from Burt's Bees. (I've found it locally in Seattle at Bartell Drugs.) I'm not usually a regular mascara wearer, but I really dig this one. I learned about it from Katey Denno (celebrity makeup artist and green beauty aficionado), whom I've followed the last several years. I'll write more about Katey at some point, but I adore her. And if she loves/recommends a beauty product, I'm in...

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Happy weekend and happy spring!

 

How to Break Up With Your Phone

by Kelsi in , , , , , ,


 

I'm not sure where I first saw the image below but it resonated strongly with me. Often when I have a break teaching and walk down to the coffee shop I pass person after person looking down, only to open the door to a room full of people again looking down, and stand in line to order my coffee behind a handful of people each one, again, looking down...

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Our lives are what we pay attention to.

I hope this slim and life-changing book by Catherine Price becomes as ubiquitous as another slim and life-changing book I love. Read more about it here and also here.

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At home we follow a 24 hour "tech sabbath" beginning Friday at 8pm until Saturday at 8pm (which Price mentions) which has been a game changer. I first learned about the idea of a "tech sabbath" from Tiffany Shlain and her converstation with Krista Tippett.

Do yourself (and your kids) a favor and read this book.

 

Kitchen Basics - Homemade Coconut Milk

by Kelsi in ,


 

I wrote a few weeks ago about the simplicity of making hemp milk. Another plant-based milk I've been making regularly is coconut milk, which is just as easy.

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Add 3 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut to your high-speed blender. Pour in 4 cups of hot water and let steep for 5 minutes. Then blend on high for one minute or so. Let cool a bit if it's too hot to handle then strain through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag

Store in the fridge for up to 4 days and shake before using.